Evita now graces Argentina's 100-peso note

Evita graces peso note
BUENOS AIRES -- Exalted in countless books, a Broadway musical and a Madonna movie, Argentina’s Eva Peron now graces that country’s 100-peso note in commemoration of her death 60 years ago Thursday.

In a ceremony, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said she wants the Eva Peron commemorative peso note to become permanent, replacing one featuring Julio Argentino Roca, one of the country's early presidents.

“It seems to me to be an homage that we owe not only to her but to ourselves,” Fernandez told a gathering Wednesday at the presidential palace.

In the background was an enlarged facsimile of the bill, featuring a profile shot of the blond former dancer popularly known as Evita. She was the wife of President Juan Peron, who ruled from 1946 to 1955, and then again for nine months prior to his death in 1974.

The 100-peso note currently is valued at nearly $22.

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Argentina bomb defused where Colombia's ex-president was to speak

Bomb found at Gran Rex Theater in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

BUENOS AIRES -- Argentine officials on Tuesday found a bomb in a Buenos Aires auditorium where former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is scheduled to speak.

Federal police said the crude explosive was discovered by employees at the Gran Rex Theater in central Buenos Aires, where Uribe is to participate in a business leadership conference Wednesday. No group immediately claimed responsibility and there were no arrests.

Authorities said the bomb consisted of a cardboard box filled with black powder explosive and a cellphone connected to a detonator.

On May 15, Colombia’s former interior minister, Fernando Londoño, was the target of a bombing that killed his driver and bodyguard. Some officials suspect the rebels known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, were responsible, although no suspects have been named officially.

The cellphone was programmed to detonate Wednesday afternoon, when the highest concentration of people was expected at a post-conference cocktail hour. 

Investigating Judge Norberto Oyarbide said the bomb constituted a “very serious” plot and could have had “unpredictable consequences.”

"It’s a simple apparatus but sufficient to cause the death of people who were nearby,” Oyarbide said at a news conference in front of the theater. Also scheduled to speak at the Wednesday conference are Guy Caron, co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, and an official with the Barcelona pro soccer team.

Late Tuesday afternoon, organizers said the conference would go on as scheduled.

Leftist organizations and Colombian residents critical of the presence of Uribe had planned a midday demonstration Wednesday to protest his appearance.

There was no comment from the Argentine government as of late Tuesday. Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon issued a statement saying his government “rejected any form of terrorism.” 


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U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan leaving post a year early

Lebanon court releases Islamist whose arrest triggered clashes

-- Andres D’Alessandro in Buenos Aires and Chris Kraul in Bogota, Colombia

Photo: Police stand guard outside the Gran Rex Theater in Buenos Aires on Tuesday. Credit: Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press 


Argentina newborn found alive in icy morgue suffers medical setback

Analia Bouter and husband Fabian Veron
BUENOS AIRES -- Doctors in Argentina on Friday struggled to save the life of a baby who was mistakenly declared dead last week and spent 12 hours in a refrigerated hospital morgue before her mother discovered she was alive.

Luz Milagros Veron, who survived in a tiny wooden box in the morgue at Perrando de Resistencia Hospital, on Thursday suffered cardiopulmonary failure and an infection. She was in critical condition and in the neonatal intensive care ward Friday, hospital administrators said.

The baby was born three months premature, weighing slightly more than a pound and apparently stillborn. Doctors at the hospital signed a death certificate and sent her to the morgue.

Before leaving the hospital later that night, her mother Analia Bouter, asked to see her infant’s body one last time. After a hospital worker pried the lid off the box, she heard her frost-covered baby whimper and saw her make slight movements, Bouter later told reporters at a news conference. The baby was in stable condition until her Thursday emergency.

Hospital director Dr. Jose Luis Meiriño has insisted that the hospital follows “strict medical protocols” and that the baby was born with “no apparent vital signs.” Her birth was attended by an obstetrician, a gynecologist and a neonatologist, he said.

The provincial health minister, Francisco Baquero, has said an investigation would be conducted, adding, “We’re dealing with a human error.”

The baby’s father, Fabian Veron, told reporters: “In spite of everything, we believe that if my daughter is still with us its because it’s a message that she will survive.” The couple have four other children.


Mexico presidential race leaves voters dismayed

Brazil wins the gold medal in gridlock

Yes, they're abierto: Cubans open their doors to small business

-- Andres D'Alessandro in Buenos Aires and Chris Kraul in Bogota, Colombia

Photo: Analia Bouter and her husband, Fabian Veron. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency

Argentina president Fernandez proposes oil firm nationalization

Argentina President Cristina Fernandez
BUENOS AIRES -- Blaming a lack of investment in domestic energy production for a spike in oil and gas imports, Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner sent a proposal to congress Thursday to nationalize a majority interest in YPF, the country’s largest oil company.

If approved, the government would acquire a 50.1% interest in the company, whose majority owner is Spain-based Repsol. News of the proposal sent YPF share prices soaring 8.6% in New York Stock Exchange trading, as investors positioned themselves for the government’s possible purchase of shares.

Fernandez has ramped up her criticism of the oil industry in recent weeks, blaming it for a doubling of energy imports last year and a reversal of the country’s once sizable energy surplus.

But industry analysts point to Fernandez’s populist fuel price controls and consumer subsidies as reasons for the production decline. By forcing producers to charge customers less than market prices for gasoline, diesel and gas, she makes them loath to spend millions of dollars in drilling for new reservoirs, analysts said.

In a recent interview with the Times, energy consultant Daniel Gerold of Buenos Aires said Argentina's price controls thus feed a “vicious cycle” of decreasing domestic supplies and rising imports, cutting Argentina’s trade surplus.

The issue has become a political football. Local politicians in several states who support Fernandez have revoked about a dozen of YPF’s exploration permits in the last month. Meanwhile, YPF this week promised to invest $4.4 billion over the next five years in several projects in Santa Cruz state.

Fernandez on Thursday met with member governors of the Federal Organization of Hydrocarbon Producing States and was expected to address the nation about nationalization.

Opposition senator Maria Eugenia Estenssoro criticized the proposal as the “third rape of YPF in 12 years,” referring to formerly state-owned YPF’s privatization in 1999, and the 2008 sale of a large stake in the energy company to a close ally of the president “who didn’t put up any money.”

Many of Latin America’s former state-owned oil companies have undergone partial privatization in recent years, a hybrid  policy that has enabled former monopolies such as Petrobras of Brazil and Ecopetrol of Colombia to expand production and profits.

Conversely, tighter state control at Venezuela’s state-owned petroleum company PDVSA since massive strikes in 2002 and 2003 prompted President Hugo Chavez to fire 20,000 workers there has led to a sharp decrease in crude output and efficiency.


North Korea rocket launch reportedly fails

Argentina, Britain mark Falklands War's 30th anniversary

Colombian rebels free last 10 military hostages

-- Special correspondents Andres D'Alessandro in Buenos Aires and Chris Kraul in Bogota, Colombia.

Photo: Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner arrives for an event at the government house in Buenos Aires on Thursday, April 12, 2012. Credit: Eduardo Di Baia /Associated Press

Prince William burned in effigy on Falklands War anniversary


Every day on WorldNow, we choose a remarkable photo from around the world. Today we picked this fiery shot from Argentina, which is marking the 30-year anniversary of the Falkland Islands War.

The Falkland Islands are under British control and have been since 1833, but Argentina says it inherited the South Atlantic archipelago from the Spanish crown. Thirty years ago, more than 900 people died in a bloody 74-day war as Britain drove off Argentinian troops who had invaded the islands.

The anniversary has underscored tensions over the islands. Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner railed Monday against the British for maintaining control of the Falklands, calling it "absurd," and has warned Argentinian banks not to lend money to oil exploration projects under discussion there.

PHOTOS: Thirty years ago -- a look back

This striking photo underscores just how tense the anniversary has become: Argentinian leftists protesting near the British Embassy in Buenos Aires are burning an effigy of Prince William, who recently participated in naval exercises near the islands. The demonstrators also burned a British flag.

Britain argues that the Falkland Islanders should decide whose leadership they want. Nearly all of the islanders are British citizens, and they have repeatedly insisted that they want to be British.

Argentina has countered that, under the United Nations charter, self-determination is reserved for “ethnic groups,” not for “spaces illegally occupied by transplanted communities.”  


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Palestinian on hunger strike is freed, deported to Gaza

Syria violence continues as Annan prepares to brief U.N. [Video]

-- Andres D'Alessandro in Buenos Aires, Chris Kraul in Bogota and Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Members of the leftist Quebracho political group burn an effigy representing Prince William during a demonstration near the British Embassy in Buenos Aires. Credit: Daniel Garcia / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

49 killed as train slams into retaining wall in Buenos Aires

Click here to see more photos.
REPORTING FROM BUENOS AIRES AND BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- A commuter train went out of control and slammed into a retaining barrier in a central Buenos Aires train station during peak rush hour Wednesday morning, killing at least 49 people and injuring more than 500, federal police officials said.
After impact, many cars pancaked or jumped the tracks, killing both passengers and people waiting at the station to board. No official cause of the accident had been determined by midday, but officials speculated that a brake or system failure or human error sent the train out of control.
Police spokesman Nestor Rodriguez said the train was traveling about 15 mph and that the toll could have been much higher had it been traveling faster.

PHOTOS: Train accident in Buenos Aires

The train that crashed was on the Sarmiento line that brings commuters to central Buenos Aires, the capital, from the western reaches of the metropolis.

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Argentina protests British naval exercises near the Falklands



REPORTING FROM BUENOS AIRES AND BOGOTA -- Argentina reacted bitterly Tuesday evening to Britain’s announcement that it was sending the destroyer Dauntless to participate in  “routine” naval exercises near the Falkland Islands as the April anniversary of the war the two countries fought over the islands approaches.

It had been reported earlier that Prince William, heir to the British throne and a Royal Air Force helicopter pilot, would participate in the exercises near the British possessions beginning next month. His uncle, Prince Andrew, also a helicopter pilot, flew missions in the brief but violent 1982 war that left 650 Argentines and about 300 British servicemen dead.

Argentina “laments the royal heir arrives on national soil in the uniform of a conqueror and not with the wisdom of a statesman working in the service of peace and dialogue between nations,” a foreign ministry statement read.

Argentina has long claimed the islands, about 300 miles east of its Patagonia region. Since the 1982 war, it  has asked the United Nations to mediate negotiations that would lead to its gaining possession. Britain has consistently refused, with Jeremy Browne, British foreign relations vice minister, saying recently that the sovereignty of the Falklands is “non-negotiable” and that London would take measures to “guarantee their security.”

Tension also has been rising because of plans unveiled by the British government to promote offshore oil and gas exploration around the islands.

Various commentators in Argentina described the announcement  of the ship’s participation in naval exercises as a provocation coming at a sensitive time.

The harsh tone of the Argentine Foreign Relations Ministry’s statement left little doubt that the government feels the same way. Argentina “rejects the British attempt to militarize a conflict which the United Nations has said on numerous occasions should be resolved in bilateral negotiations,” the statement concluded.


Argentina's Fernandez sworn in for a second term as president

Son of British vet of Falkland Islands war becomes a citizen of Argentina

Falkland Islands: Royal Navy packs considerable punch, warns William Hague

 -- Andres d’Alessandro and Chris Kraul

Photo: Britain's Prince William, seen in a recent photo, will deploy to the politically sensitive Falkland Islands for a naval exercise that has angered Argentina. Credit: John Stillwell / Associated Press. 

Argentina's Fernandez sworn in for a second term as president

REPORTING FROM BUENOS AIRES and BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was sworn in for a second term Saturday, extolling the country's remarkable economic turnaround and promising to continue extensive social programs and subsidies that critics say are increasingly too costly.

Before a full complement of Latin American leaders and legislators gathered in the national congress building, she referred several times to her predecessor and late husband, Nestor Kirchner, who died of a heart attack in October 2010.

"Argentina has made an incredible leap," she said, referring to sharp reduction in poverty and joblessness since her husband took power in 2003. She succeeded him in 2007. "We have added 5 million jobs, and 96% of our retirees are covered" by government pensions, she said.

Fernandez won reelection in a landslide in October, garnering 54% of the vote, far ahead of the top vote-getter among her six rivals, with 17%.

Voters credit her and her late husband with having guided the economy back from the abyss a decade ago, when the country was convulsed by a debt default, a currency devaluation and unemployment exceeding 25%. She has been helped by the global commodities boom and rising demand for Argentina’s leading farm exports of soy, beef and wheat, which have boosted revenue for the government.

Fernandez has gained broad public support by redirecting tax and royalty windfalls to social programs, including pensions and cash to the poor in exchange for their children’s school attendance. But her restrictive export policies have riled many companies. inflation is running at 25%, and expectations of a devaluation have led to capital flight that could exceed $20 billion this year.

"I am not the president of the corporations but of 40 million Argentinians," she said before leaders who included presidents Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and Sebastian Pinera of Chile.

Several economists have warned that expensive subsidies on fuel, electricity and other services are no longer feasible as Argentina's fiscal and trade surpluses have shrunk.

Once rich in oil and gas, the country became a net energy importer this year because restrictions on oil companies’ profits have lowered exploration and production, requiring an increase in costly imports of natural gas and diesel to meet ever-rising demand.

Kirchner also pledged to bring to justice officials responsible for the killing and disappearance of between 11,000 and 30,000 people during the military dictatorship that lasted from 1976 to 1983. A law that gave many accused impunity in the so called “dirty war” was repealed in 2005, but cases continue to be tied up in legal wrangling.

"I hope that in the four years of my term that these cases that have been delayed more than 30 years can be finalized," Fernandez said. "What I dream of … is that the next president doesn’t have to repeat the same phrase."


Nestor Kirchner dies at 60

Soybeans now rule the range in Argentina plains

Argentina's Fernandez easily reelected as president

-- Andres D'Alessandro in Buenos Aires and Chris Kraul in Bogota

Photo: Spain's Prince Felipe  greets Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner during her inauguration ceremony in Buenos Aires on Saturday. Credit: Juan Mabromata / AFP/Getty Images


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